Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Dímelo (tell me about it): What influence does social stratification have on attitudes towards HIV/AIDS and Homosexuality among Latinos?

    Author:
    Moctezuma Garcia
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Bernadette Hadden
    Abstract:

    The following study places an emphasis on organized religion as a social structure reinforcing social stratification through religious beliefs and implications for attitudes towards People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and homosexuality among Latinos. Latinos (N = 312) were recruited via email throughout the U.S. to complete a self-administered online survey. The findings reveal that religiosity and spirituality should not be utilized interchangeably. Greater levels of religiosity were significantly correlated with lower levels of acculturation, greater levels of traditional gender-related attitudes, greater levels of spiritual well-being, lower levels of educational attainment, greater negative attitudes towards PLWHA, and greater negative attitudes towards homosexuals. Spirituality was only significantly correlated (positively) with religiosity and household income. A multiple linear regression analysis was selected to determine the relationship between outcome variables and multiple predictor and intervening variables. Educational attainment and acculturation accounted for 11% of the variance in HIV/AIDS knowledge, R2 = .11, F(3, 266) = 10.68, p<.001. Traditional gender-related attitudes accounted for 9% of the variance in attitudes towards PLWHA, R2 = .09, F(2, 247) = 11.73, p<.001. Acculturation, educational attainment, age, and traditional gender-related attitudes accounted for 23% of the variance in attitudes towards homosexuals, R2 = .23, F(5, 236) = 13.58, p<.001. Recommendations are made for professionals to collaborate with religious communities in developing services that integrate religious beliefs in addressing HIV transmission and taboo subjects such as premarital sex, condom use, substance use, and homosexuality in the community.

  • Can we get along, long enough to collaborate?

    Author:
    Martha Garcia
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Roderick Watts
    Abstract:

    Successful collaborations take effort. This study analyzed the process followed by 20 groups of diverse professions that were brought together to solve a community health problem. To this goal a four part model of conflict was adapted and used to understand how conflict emerged, was managed or resolved. The model allowed for the identification of five routes to conflict. Conflict was either averted or managed constructively by most of the groups and a set of productive behaviors is associated with this ability. Experienced collaborators utilize these behaviors at various times throughout the collaborative process to promote group cohesion and the possibility of integrating differences and transforming them into more creative outcomes. Conflict is found to be neutral; for some groups it is stagnating while others are able to use it constructively.

  • Differentiating Theoretical Approaches to Batterer Intervention: A Study of Batterer Intervention Programs

    Author:
    Bea Hanson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Sarah-Jane Dodd
    Abstract:

    Developed more than 25 years ago, batterer programs have become the response of choice for many in the field of domestic violence, with the criminal justice system the highest user. However, researchers have found limited results in the ability of these programs to eliminate or reduce re-abuse. Some batterer programs have refocused on using batterer programs, not as rehabilitative, but as a resource for the courts, one of the consequences for men who batter. Other programs, however, have continued to look for the right types of intervention to positively impact the attitudes and behaviors of batterers. These different approaches have led to tensions among batterer programs. Research in the field has focused on the impact of programs on individual batterers and criminal justice system recidivism and compliance with court orders and not on individual programs themselves. This study involves interviews with directors of nineteen batterer programs in New York State, representing a range of perspectives to better understand the different types of organizations operating these programs, the different interventions used and how they define success. This study tested an established framework used to differentiate programs, based on the focus of change on the individual batterer, the couple and society. The findings from this study support how the established framework differentiated programs based on the focus of change, but found that programs focused equally on changing the individual batterer and changing society, with far fewer focused on changing the couple. The study also found that most batterer programs accepted only men who were mandated through the criminal justice system, leaving fewer opportunities for self-referred batterers. The study also found that funding for batterer programs was declining in New York State and that the number of batterer programs seemed to be declining. The findings about the decline in funding coupled with existing literature questioning the efficacy of these programs called into question their continuation, especially for men who are mandated by the criminal justice system. The study found some promising new directions for batterer programming, especially for men who are not mandated.

  • The policy conflict between syringe exchange programs and policing practices in the United States, and its influence on the health risk behaviors of injecting drug users: a quantitative assessment

    Author:
    Daliah Heller
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Mimi Abramovitz
    Abstract:

    Since the early years of the twentieth century, developments in United States (US) drug policy have cycled between tolerance for drug use, on the one hand, and restraint to prevent drug use, on the other (Musto, 1999). In the 1980s, AIDS emerged, just as neoliberalism grew to dominate the national policy agenda, reinforcing normative social standards with coercion and punishment (Abramovitz, 2004). With evidence for injecting drug users' particular vulnerability to HIV infection, advocates introduced syringe exchange programs to reduce the epidemic's escalation. A conflict in drug policy persists for these programs, however. Most programs operate in states where syringes remain criminalized, and where syringe possession is authorized only as a public health emergency. The results of this conflict are evident `on the streets,' in encounters between police officers and injecting drug users participating in syringe exchange programs. This study examines the experiences of injecting drug users with police `on the streets,' aiming to understand which individual characteristics of injecting drug users influence the likelihood for and severity of police encounters. The literature suggests the negative influence of these encounters on the health risks experienced by this population. Secondary analysis was conducted with an existing dataset of injecting drug users participating in US syringe exchange programs. Three characteristics of respondents - recent homelessness (street, and `other place') and recent illegal income - were leading predictors for two scales assessing police encounters, measuring the likelihood and severity of encounters, respectively. Findings from this analysis suggest opportunities for policy development. In some cities, law enforcement has become involved with human services partnerships, addressing homelessness as a social problem rather than a crime. Introducing syringe exchange programs into these `helping' relationships could radically improve the experiences of homeless injecting drug users, while re-shaping the social environment developed by US drug policy. Syringe deregulation could accomplish this goal at the structural level, with legislative change.

  • I Didn't Consent to That: secondary analysis of discrimination against BDSM identified individuals

    Author:
    Larry Iannotti
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Sara Jane Dodd
    Abstract:

    Sadomasochism (BDSM) sexual behavior is an understudied phenomenon within the social sciences generally, and social work in particular. While BESM sexuality encompasses a wide variety of activities a community of individuals interested in BDSM is identifiable and has coalesced around organized groups, events, political activism, and shared sexual interests. This community has experienced discrimination, violence, and harassment (DVH) as a result of social approbation and stigma associated with BDSM practices. The study examines results of a secondary analysis of data from the Survey of Violence & Discrimination against Sexual Minorities, conducted in 2008. Severity and frequency of various types of DVH are explored and relationships between demographic characteristics, BDSM activities, and frequencies of DVH are examined. An emancipatory social work frame is used to contextualize the results of the analysis and implications for both practice and policy are discussed.

  • Older Adult Sexuality: Measuring Healthcare Provider Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors

    Author:
    Stephanie Jacobson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Harriet Goodman
    Abstract:

    Healthcare provider practices around older adult sexuality are increasingly the focus of scholarship. Researchers use available scales to study health worker knowledge and behavior in their research. This dissertation argues the need for a new scale, because the available measures are dated and do not account for changes in attitudes and medical advances over three decades. After a review of the increasing role of physicians, social workers, and other health workers providing care for sexual issues throughout history, I describe available scales for measuring knowledge and behaviors about older adult sexuality and review research that employs them. The purpose of the dissertation was to develop a contemporary measure regarding older adult sexuality practices among health workers. I utilized a two-phase plan following Bowen and Guo's 12-step mixed-method approach for scale development (2012). Phase I included a literature review and qualitative interviews with experts on older adult sexuality regarding the construct. Then I created a universe of items, reviewed them with the experts, and revised items. In Phase II, I tested the items with 155 healthcare providers and conducted analysis for reliability and validity. Based on the analysis, I culled items to create a shortened scale. I proposed a scale consisting of 52 items with three subscales: a 25-item Knowledge subscale, a 13-item Attitude subscale, and a 14-item Behavior subscale. The Knowledge subscale showed poor internal reliability (KR-20 = .625). The Attitudes (α = .825), and Behavior (α = .837) subscales showed good internal reliability. I also evaluated content validity and criterion-related validity for the subscales. Flaws in the methods and analysis make the 52-item proposed scale conceptually unsound. Limitations in generating the pool of items, evaluating the items, and testing reliability and validity did not produce a viable scale. I analyze problems with the methodological approach and propose a redesign that corrects for flaws in the approach employed here. I will use an inductive, social justice model that expands scale development to include interviews with practitioners and older adults. I conclude with a number of research, practice, and policy implications that will result from a redesigned scale.

  • Becoming a Transdisciplinary Practitioner: Paradigms and Potlatches

    Author:
    Richard Kahn
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Irwin Epstein
    Abstract:

    Abstract BECOMING A TRANSDISCIPLINARY PRACTITONER: PARADIGMS AND POTLATCHES By: Richard Kahn Adviser: Professor Irwin Epstein The goal of the dissertation is to show how biomedically trained allied health professionals, nurses and a physician learned how to integrate psychological paradigms into their biomedical practice paradigms to become transdisciplinary practitioners. Semi-structured recorded interviews were held with 14 graduates of the Infant-Parent Study Center of the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services (IPSC). The interviews were conducted using a constructivist approach. The responses were organized into a narrative. A new definition of transdisciplinarity had to be created in order to describe the learning process. Prior to enrolling in the IPSC, the respondents had conscious and unconscious drives to practice clinical psychology which led to professional isolation, some training in psychology, mentors and peak experiences about integrating mind and body. Respondents first felt alienated by the specialized psychological knowledge and discourse of the teachers and the majority of students. They kept silent until they discovered that they possessed specialized knowledge needed by the mental health workers. Peak experiences related to training occurred. After graduating, the respondents felt part of a practice community. They acquired the ability to think in two epistemological, physical and psychological, to understand and treat complex clinical problems. Graduates also became organizational change agents in line practice, universities and social service systems. Peak experiences appear to have ceased upon realization of psychologized practice. The learning process entails creating a dual paradigm mindset that concurrently accommodates biomedical and psychological epistemologies rather than a single transdisciplinary viewpoint as anticipated by the IPSC. The learning process at the IPSC can be compared to a First Nation Haida potlatch exchange ritual. Biomedical practitioners being trained in clinical psychology need support in crossing the epistemological divide that separates biomedical from psychological practice. The transition will be faster if; 1: trainers encourage biomedically trained to students to value their own professional experience before taking on the new information thought process; and, 2) tell students from biomedical professions that mental health professionals use a contrasting practice paradigm .

  • A Systematic Review of the Literature on the Effects Of School Bullying from the Framework of Jurgen Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action

    Author:
    Gary Kogan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Mimi Abramovitz
    Abstract:

    This project is a systematic review of the US quantitative, empirical studies on the effects of school bullying for the purpose of determining the degree to which Jurgen Habermas's social theory, the theory of communicative action, can be used to understand the constellation of measured effects. School bullying is defined as a systematic abuse of power: the empirical literature on school bullying, therefore, provides a large data set on the abuse of power. The review finds strong consistency between the theory and the results of selected studies suggesting that Habermas's theory of communicative action can explain and predict the mechanisms through which the bullying experience can affect the targeted child.

  • Social Worker Attitudes Towards Recovery Among People With Serious Mental Illness

    Author:
    Debra Kram-Fernandez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Harriet Goodman
    Abstract:

    Growing numbers of researchers are studying mental health practitioners' adoption of the Recovery Perspective and its operational model, Psychiatric Rehabilitation. However, they have not studied social workers, even though they provide the majority of services to seriously mentally ill consumers (SMI). This study examined social worker's practices, goals, and adoption of the Recovery Perspective and Psychiatric Rehabilitation. From a random sample of 3,000 National Association of Social Work (NASW) New York State members, 441 completed paper and pencil surveys that included two measures, the Recovery Knowledge Inventory (Bedregal, Davidson & O'Connell, 2006) and the Psychiatric Rehabilitation: Beliefs, Goals and Practices Scale, (Casper & Oursler, 2003). The majority of subjects (67%) worked with SMIs for over ten years. Only 21% reported employment in restrictive settings including in-patient, day hospital, or continuing day treatment; over 100% reported primary or secondary employment in less restrictive settings including clinics, private practice, or other. Sixty-one percent had a close friend or family member with SMI. Pluralities reported subscribing to a psychodynamic (42%) or cognitive-behavioral (47%) theoretical frame of reference. I found a high level of positive response consistent with the Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Recovery Perspectives. Those who selected "Other" as their theoretical framework endorsed the models more than those who selected "Psycho-dynamic." Private practitioners were less likely to endorse the models; those working in Continuing Day Treatment Program were more likely to endorse them. Sub-scales in the two instruments suggested that New York State NASW social workers embraced the ideals of both models, but were less likely to practice in recovery-oriented ways. In New York State, social workers adhere to model's ideals, but may not practice according to their principles. Those more inclined to practice from these principles were not in mainstream treatment roles, but employed approaches that are more flexible. Social workers in clinics, where New York State promotes this type of treatment, were least likely to practice this way. Implications for social work education are profound, since schools are the locus of professional preparation. Particularly since younger workers were less likely to endorse the models, current educational practices appear inconsistent with regulatory regulations.

  • Multidisciplinary Clinical Consultation in Child Protection: Contextual Influences and Stakeholder Perceptions of Best Practices

    Author:
    Marina Lalayants
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Irwin Epstein
    Abstract:

    Presented in this study are "best practices" drawn from a multi-method examination of an innovative multidisciplinary clinical consultation program in a large, governmental child protection agency. Experiences of multiple key stakeholders (N=90) were studied through in-depth qualitative face-to-face interviews and were combined with quantitative data-mining of available consultation records (N=1,455) and ethnographic observation in order to derive organizational dimensions and practices associated with successful program implementation. Using the program development theory by Tripodi, Fellin, and Epstein (1977) and Bielawski and Epstein (1984), the study described and evaluated the evolution of the multidisciplinary clinical consultation practice through the four stages of program initiation, contact, implementation, and stabilization. More specifically, this organizational case study portrays the collaborative process between clinical consultation teams, comprised of domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health consultants and a team coordinator, and child protective caseworkers and supervisors; knowledge integration of domestic violence, mental health, and substance abuse in child protective work; contextual, structural, and organizational differences and influences; impact of collaboration on child protective staff and their decision-making about the cases; factors contributing to and inhibiting collaborations; strategies for overcoming the challenges in collaborations; and implications for practice. The study findings suggest that multidisciplinary collaboration is multidimensional, interactional, and developmental. Many factors contribute to shaping "best practice" in multidisciplinary collaboration in child protection. These factors are interactional in nature and may facilitate or undermine collaborative practices. Synthesizing data from the study findings, six factors were identified as most important in achieving a best practice: preplanning, commitment, communication, strong leadership, understanding the cultures of collaborating agencies, and structural supports and adequate resources for collaboration. The strategies to achieve them must include efforts at dual levels: individual and organizational. Although the data were drawn from only one program, the issues uncovered and generalizations drawn are consistent with research in other organizational environments suggesting that the types of difficulties experienced in the collaborative process may be highly transferable and strategies for improving collaborative practices may be applicable to a variety of settings.